Friday, June 5, 2015

The unimagined life of the actuarian

How long do these blooms last?
How fast can I walk with cheap shoes?
How far will my money last?
What are my chances of getting cancer?

These and other questions do have answers, based on statistical analysis, a gathering of raw data supporting a longitudinal study or a species factor status...We do have experts who know what numbers to gather to provide the proper guidance for the rest of us.

Or do we?

My biggest surprises in old age were never on any radar, mine or my Hubby's. I thought we had the world figured out by our sixties. Expenses get reduced after children are grown; needs are diminished; wants are simple shelter,food and medicines.

How did medical needs end up costing  more per month than food?
How did communication devices end up tipping our piggy banks?
Why did we choose to live in a place that needed a sewer tax to rebuild its sewer system?

In my working years, I paid nothing for medical care. From the time I had my first child, the bill for his care and mine in and out of the hospital was the cost of that phone call home. Yes, $1.50 to call out of zone. Today, I might not even use the hospital phone, since my $ 150 monthly cell allows me unlimited local calls, coming and going. I didn't even have a cell phone until early 2000, and then, I only used it for emergency. But even with full insurance and Medicare coverage, I will be surprised by the hefty charge attached to my hospital stay.

We might imagine the future pain free, and even device free, in an all comprehensive smart environment that knows what we do, even before we do it, can identify the places and services we need when we type the first letter of a query on google search. But, can we imagine the future affordable? Reasonable? Friendly to those of us who were not born into it? Indiscriminate if we do not have a bank account with unlimited funds? Or, unlimited friends to rescue us when we are publicly shamed on some social media?

Will these blooms last longer if I avoid chemical additives?
Will a path be available if I do not have Nike's best running shoes?
Will my present income cover my future needs?
Will my cancer risks decrease with age?


Rian said...

One of the pros for retirement is that we now have 'time'... but one of the cons is that we may have too much time to think about things that haven't happened yet. Yes, we must be cautious, but we mustn't be fearful. Fear takes the joy out of everything. The philosophy of 'what is, is... and we can handle it' works for me. I would think that everyone has to find that something that works for them...?

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Rosaria, you're reading my mind: so many unexpected questions, expenses and uncertainties. We're watching our savings going down faster than we imagined. Who knew that we would need already to replace the air conditioning system, the water heater and the fridge in our six year old home? Who knew that my husband's epilepsy had caused extensive damage on both hemispheres of his brain -- and every time he stops and searches for a word, we wonder if this is the start of his descent? And at 70 -- watching so many contemporaries die or become disabled -- I wonder how many good years I have left. It is motivating me to stop dreaming and procrastinating and to do what I want to do today and to lose that dreamy concept of "Someday, I'll...." Thanks so much for a lovely and thought-provoking post!

Maggie May said...

I thought I'd got our lives mapped out and we'd have a comfortable old age but now, Harry's nursing fees are eating into precious savings at an alarming rate! We just cannot plan some things.
Everything seems to be a lottery of luck, really. Best to enjoy what you can when you can.
Maggie x

Marty Damon said...

You've hit the nail on the head. Who would have guessed that we would willingly pay $150 a month for a phone? Remember when TV was free?
As you point out, who knows what is waiting for us around the future fiscal corner?

My Life in the Charente said...

Life has changed so much since we were children. It is hard to believe that we used to write letters and post them (to everyone). The telephone was available but not to walk a round with and the more I think about what is available now and not then I could write a book on. Yes life has changed, some things I love, others I have my doubts about!. Have a good weekend Diane

dianefaith said...

I think Maggie May has it right: "it's a lottery of luck, really." I would stop myself from worrying if I could. I just cannot figure out how to do it.

Tom Sightings said...

It's the health factor that has me worried. I thought I was healthy. So how come I have three doctors appointments on my calendar, and just got a $1500 bill for three crowns!?!

yaya said...

I'm constantly trying to push the budget down. I've worked in healthcare since I was 18 and never was it free. It's ridiculous how much it costs to have insurance and then still have to pay. I know of a few of my coworkers who had a ruptured appendix because they couldn't afford the ER bill so they hoped the pain would go away. We don't get a discount because we work there..that wouldn't be fair I guess! So hopefully we do the best we can and try to keep our health as long as possible. Who knows all the answers? Not me for sure. But I do know that I want to live my life as stress free as possible and hope for the best! I wish you all the best too..I admire how hard you work to live your retirement life with grace.

Retired English Teacher said...

I think I'll go bury my head in the sand now.

Seriously, you are so right. I try not to let these questions ruin the time I have left, but they do. How much time do I have left???

I got a medical bill two days after coming home from my pacemaker procedure. I thought they had wasted no time in sending me a bill as I opened it. Then I saw the bottom line charge and almost had a heart attack. That is when I realized it was the bill for my heart ablation last summer. It was astronomical. Thankfully, I only had to pay a very small fraction because I pay dearly for the health insurance which I have.

Like you, having insurance in my younger years through the educational system for which my husband worked, we paid $0 for the birth of our first born. Even when #5 was born, we paid little. We also received our insurance without paying a dime for it. It was part of our benefit for being an educator.

Thankfully, we have have an excellent pension, but the legislature thinks it is too good for retired educators and they threaten to take it away. Never mind that some like my husband paid into it for 40+ years. We have tried to be wise in our retirement years, but now as wise as we should have been. My husband has gone back to work because he loves it, but we must admit that the extra money is nice.

the walking man said...

Rosaria--I have asked those questions for years and now all the more since Detroit's bankruptcy and the first thing done--killed off all medical care for retirees. I have medicare but added onto everything else is $6000 per year for my wife just to have a card that says she has insurance--prescription costs have quadrupled--but the only ones who care are us. The insurance companies sure don't, they'll try to deny service as long as possible to get that yearly copay to reset.

Retirement in the slums trust me is no better and scant worse than where you are, ammo is my only extra cost. And that's sad. But fortunately we have saved for 30 years above my pension and SSD and are debt free that is the only thing that saves us. That and owning no stock they can devalue anytime the wealthy want more money.

My personal opinion, retirement is boring and *meh* nothing like I ever thought it would be like.

Down by the sea said...

I'm glad you enjoyed my pictures of Southern Italy. It was interesting reading about your life story and how even though you have lived in America for so long you feel part of you is still there.
We are lucky in the Uk still having free health care and it is something I am interested in as a work in the health sector. We learnt that Italy's health service is now the 2nd best in the world and copied the English set up.
My sister in law died of cancer at the age of 66. Cancer seems to be so much more wide spread these days. I can only remember one of my parent's friends suffering with it. When my husband was diagnosed with it a few years ago it made us review our lives and gave us the incentive to try and realise our dreams and create a simpler life. Sarah x

Becky Jerdee said...

Oh, those are all hard questions! We are living in oblivion, living on hope that we won't become wards of the state. Thanks to the insurance companies and overcharging by hospitals who see themselves as businesses, we take the luck of the draw. And we don't blame God who has nothing to do with the machinations of men and their love of money.

A Cuban In London said...

I read your post and I sympathise with you. For some reason I do not think that your questions will be answered any time soon. Great post. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Vagabonde said...

I don’t ask those questions as I am afraid of the answers. I am always so surprised by the citizens of this country who do not complain enough about the state of health here – if that was in Europe – people would be screaming in the streets!

More money is spent here than in any of the other western countries and the health is not as good – life expectancy is not as high either. I guess making health insurance for profit is one of the reasons – I think in all the other countries it is not for profit. I was just reading an article about infant mortality. The US has a higher infant mortality rate than 27 other wealthy countries (and the US is the wealthiest,) and in some states it is even worse. The ranking in Mississippi for example comes somewhere between Botswana and Bahrain (and Alabama below Lebanon.) (you can read the article here: It seems so strange to me for a country that constantly spends so much money to stop abortions that once infants are born, does not care to spend enough to keep infants healthy. It certainly is a curious country. Lobbyists for pharmaceutical companies are also so very strong. My cholesterol medication – not covered by Medicare, would cost me $550 for a 90-day supply here. I can get the same medication from Canada, a 100-day supply, for $42 including shipping – it is astonishing to say the least!

Friko said...

Ouch, scary.

I have no answers, but I am like that kid in the dark, whistling and keeping my fingers crossed.